Public Health Scotland has announced it will no longer publish information about deaths and hospitalizations related to Covid-19 vaccination status, citing concerns the data is being “misused” by anti-vaccination campaigners.
Scotland’s public health watchdog announced the sudden change in policy last week in its most recent Covid-19 report, saying the frequency and content of the data would be reviewed.
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Instead, officials will focus on publishing more complex data that promotes the idea of vaccine effectiveness.
Remarkably, Public Health Scotland officials admitted they will no longer publish the vaccination status of deaths in the country due to the activities of anti-vaccination campaigners.
The report published last week will be the last weekly publication to include data which includes information on death rates, broken down by the number of doses received.
The Scotsman reports: Officials said that two central issues relating to the unvaccinated population and testing habits meant the data was no longer reliable or robust and open for misinterpretation without adequate context.
This is due to the fact that the population data used for the unvaccinated population is based on GP registration details, meaning it includes thousands of individuals who are registered but may no longer live in Scotland or simply failed to deregister.
As the vaccinated population grows, this flaw in the data becomes more pronounced due to the true number of unvaccinated people being much lower than the number used, making the final published data less reliable.
Vaccinated people are also more likely to report the results of lateral flow tests, further skewing the data due to changes in how a test result is formally recorded with individuals no longer needing a PCR test to confirm infection.
One PHS official said that focusing on vaccine effectiveness rather than the existing “very simple statistics” would result in “much more robust” data for the public.
They said: “The main important point around all of the analysis is we understand whether the vaccines are working against catching it and against getting severe Covid, and that’s where the vaccine effectiveness studies come in which are a completely different methodology.
“The case rates, hospitalisation rates, the death rates are very simple statistics, whereas for the vaccine effectiveness studies we use modelling, we compare people who have tested negative to those who have tested positive and match them on their underlining co-morbidities.
“It’s a completely different method which is much more robust and that’s what we want people to focus on.”
The data has been promoted on social media by individuals including The Spectator’s associate editor Toby Young, the American right-wing opinion website, The Blaze, and anti-vaxxer American talking head Alex Berenson.
The PHS official added: “What is happening is people are looking at those simple data and trying to make inferences about the vaccination, whether the vaccines work, inappropriately and sometimes wilfully.
“There are so many caveats and they just pull certain figures out that should not be used.
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